Sunday Service 17th November
What worship should be like?
Call to worship
Hymn 63(JP): God who made the earth
Time for all
Hymn 54(JP): God forgave my sin
Reading 1 Timothy 2: 1-15 Margaret
Hymn 182: Now thank we all our God
Prayer of Dedication
Hymn 181: For the beauty of the earth
Welcome to our reflection for 17th September.
We have been going through the women’s lectionary this year. And a lot of it has been very positive and thoughtful.
But we have to admit also that there are very challenging passages when it comes to women in the Bible.
Today’s passage is one of them, and it is useful for us to study them as well.
And we will do after MARGARET leads us in our prayer and reading today.
Remember, if you are struggling and you would like our prayer group to pray for you then please contact us at revjimalvakirk@gmail .com
There are some passages that should come with a notice...light blue touch paper and stand well back...
This would be one of those passages...
Women should learn in silence and all humility. I do not allow them to teach or to have authority over men; they must keep quiet. For Adam was created first, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and broke God’s law. But a woman will be saved though having children, if she perseveres in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.
There are some times that a man should just stop talking.
I was in that situation a couple of weeks back.
I bumped into a women who I hadn’t seen in about six months.
And as soon as I saw her I said, ‘Congratulations.’
And she looked at me kind of quizzically, that should have been my first sign to shut up.
But I look quizzically back and said, ‘I haven’t seen you in a while and I hadn’t heard.’
And she said, ‘Hadn’t heard what?’
And I looked at her bump.
And she looked at her bump and said, ‘I’m not pregnant.’
If the apostle Paul was here today and started reading out his letter, I suspect he would have got an even frostier look than I got that day.
But it does raise the question, what should we do with massages like this?
In America just now the Southern Baptist Union, one of the biggest denominations in America, has just expelled two churches because they have women leaders.
If the Church of Scotland was to close all the churches that had women ministers and women elders there would only be about two churches left in the Church of Scotland. Though I know of some ministers who would say that one of the reasons the church is in decline is because we have failed to take passages in the Bible like this seriously.
They would say that we have failed to take passages like this literally, that this is one area that the Bible is very clear and concise and we should just take it as it is read.
At the other end there are those that would just dismiss this passage as part of a misogynistic male dominated theology that has no place in society now.
They would argue that the theology that Paul gives is wrong.
If his logic is that women are inferior to men because women were made later, then that would mean that dogs are superior to men because men were created later than the animals.
They would also argue that a woman may have been the first to bite the apple, but the man knew where the apple had come from before he ate it, and the man was first to lie to God about it.
As someone who loves to study context I would always go down the road of finding out the background.
For instance, in this case, I would want to know if this message, or advice, was for a particular situation or for all situations.
So If I wrote a letter to Monty Don, the garden expert, and told him that I had trouble getting fruit out of my apple tree and that the soil was very sandy. Monty Don might write a letter back to me saying that I need to water and feed the plant every day.
2,000 years later and someone reading that letter might have the exact same type of apple tree, but it is planted right beside a river, do they need to water and feed the plant every single day?
Of course not.
As a student of context, how would the society be different in Timothy’s time?
Well for a start they were used to men and women worshiping separately.
The Jewish tradition in the synagogue would be for a passage to be read out, and the students to haverabout it, literally take different stances and discuss the passage.
Women hadn’t been part of that so they might have been interrupting all the time trying to get explanations as to what was happening.
They might have been excited because they were part of the main worship for the first time and were whispering to their spouses all the time asking what was going on and why it was happening and that was just distracting for the worship leaders.
The truth is that Timothy was out his depth trying to work out this new style of worship that was developing.
And in reality, which we know from other letters of Paul, Paul had women teachers and leaders in other churches and he was more than happy with them. But as the new faith was clashing with different cultures it was having to adapt in different ways. What was the place of women in this new worship, what was the place of slaves in this new worship?
The experience that most of them had with worship was the synagogue where men worship alone, but as time went on the clashes became different, as people were coming from worshiping Caesar, or Mars, or Bacchus with their styles of worship.
And each of them brought different parts of their style and brought different expectations to their worship.
This passage was written during that huge time of transition when they were working it all out. Not that they came to a set conclusion.
The most common version of worship would end up being like a modern house group ran by the head of the house.
But then that struggled because the numbers were too big and they started having separate church buildings instead with paid ministry and then that changed and has continued to change throughout history.
For a while the main form of church was monasteries, then there was cathedrals.
We have had house group churches and mega churches and everything in-between.
And in the end it comes down to the same thing, people are both happy and unhappy with the way their church is run.
For what it is worth here’s my take on it.
There have always been those that want more freedom in worship.
And there have always been those that want more control in worship.
Look at two of our most recent probationers, John Gow and Michelle Macadoo, you couldn’t get two more different people, and the way they lead worship reflected their personalities.
If we are honest, most of the time we want communal worship to reflect our own personality and when it doesn’t we don’t feel as comfortable in it.
But here is the question I think we should ask of ourselves every day, if our life is to be worship; then what does God expect of us in worship, in life?
We tend to look at worship as the minister or a worship leader going the stuff and we are, on the whole, sitting there judging if we think it is good enough or not.
We ask ourselves questions like...
Do I agree with this theology?
Do I feel as if I am being fed spiritually?
Have I enjoyed the hymns?
To be honest we are like consumers in a shop deciding if we want to buy the product or not....and in that philosophy the church has to supply what we want.
But what if the philosophy should change?
What if worship is a thanksgiving offering to the God who has given us life and all the blessings of this life?
Then worship is not what we get to sustain us and we come and act as if we need sustenance,
worship is what we do to give thanks for all God does to sustain us and we come and act as if we have hearts of thanksgiving and praise.
If worship becomes something we do to give thanks to God then our life is an act of worship.
And what are we giving in that life?
It raises interesting questions of us...
How are we treating others, because that is an act of worship?
How are we helping others, because that is an act of worship?
How are we treating our body, because that is an act of worship?
Are we resting our bodies properly, feeding it properly, caring for it properly, because that is an act of worship?
How are we developing fellowship with others, because that is an act of worship?
How are we growing spiritually, when was the last time we were just still before God, because that is an act of worship?
Or took a leap of faith, for that is an act of worship?
If all that is too much to take in, then here is a simpler message.
Whatever Paul was trying to do in this passage, he cared enough about a friend that he was trying to give advice, and depending on your theology it may still be relevant or irrelevant today.
When was the last time you cared about someone else that you were willing to put your reputation on the line and give them help?
Because that caring, that caring will always be an act of worship that God approves of.
Let us pray
Life and be very confusing.
We like to pretend that we are in control and we understand what is going on but more often than not we struggle.
There are so many areas of our life that we find mysterious and we find too often there are limits to our comprehension. And sometimes we just have to do the best we can with the knowledge that we have, hoping that if we get it wrong, you will show us the error and help us change.
Like the intricacies within your creation.
There are debates about what is good for the environment and what isn’t.
And some things seem to be very good, and other we think are good then experts change their mind.
It is so easy to just give up and do nothing, instead help us to make decisions as best we can, given what we know and believe to be right.
May we be the same with life, the life you give us as a gift.
Problems arrive at our feet every day, decisions that we have to make about ourselves, or with others. Help us to accept these problems and with Your help, lead as best we can.
We pray for your presence as people make their way through this world,
often seeking guidance from leaders who do not first seek you. Even though they are guided by many impulses, just as we are, we pay that your will may still be done and the needs of the community are put before the needs of individuals in power.
May we, in the decisions we make,
centre ourselves on your steadfast promises, on your compassionate love, on your covenant of grace.
May our words be your words,
may our decisions be your decisions,
may our leadership be your leadership.